He wasn’t the best skier, but he was Colorado’s preeminent ski bum. Farewell, Charlie Toups. | VailDaily.com

He wasn’t the best skier, but he was Colorado’s preeminent ski bum. Farewell, Charlie Toups.

Charlie Toups lived in tired vehicles parked in Colorado ski area parking lots for decades. Here he is in Loveland in 1994. (Halsted Morris, special to The Colorado Sun)

Charlie Toups was the consummate ski bum. He spent more than 30 years of his life sleeping in cars in snowy slopeside parking lots so he could ski all day.

He wasn’t the best skier. He didn’t have the latest gear. He didn’t ski the hardest lines or boast the prettiest form. But he was out there every day. From the late 1970s to 2010, he lived in ski area parking lots. For many of those years, home was a Volkswagen Beetle. He had ripped out the passenger seat so he could unfold his lanky frame. The Beetle spent many years at the base of Aspen Highlands and more than a decade buried in the corner of the Loveland ski area lot. 

“He had to tunnel down to it. That car was basically a snow cave,” said Halsted Morris, a longtime Loveland skier and avalanche educator who serves as president of the American Avalanche Association. “Not a lot of people went to visit him in there. The smell was a bit ripe, I remember. He was one of the true last ski bums, that’s for sure. I don’t think you’ll see his kind for a long time.” 

Toups crashed his mountain bike near Montezuma on July 27. He suffered a head injury and died at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood a few days shy of his 74th birthday.

Charlie Toups posted this photo of himself with his bike on his Facebook page in 2016 with the words “I AM SPARTACUS!”
Special to the Daily |

Toups worked afternoons in the Loveland kitchen back when the Beetle was buried. At Aspen Highlands, he would wake up at dawn every morning and place his skis first in line at the lift. He would bootpack snow with ski patrol all morning for a lift ticket. At night he would stock shelves at the local grocery. Many remember him grazing from abandoned trays in the cafeteria.

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